A cold open, a slowly sinking camera and two men on horseback, firing rusting pistols at one another before a freezeframe, and we are thrust into the world of Texas, Adios immediately. A gunfight among those who have no honour is presented, while the soundtrack blows its way through the silent town. The streets are desolate. Yet, once Franco Nero has cleared it of the solitary danger, the townsfolk parade into the streets, filling the once deathly quiet place with life and nervous animosity. He is their beacon of hope and the one man who can stop debauchery, despicable crimes and deadly bandits.
Nero is Burt Sullivan, the no-nonsense, tough as old boots sheriff in charge of this seemingly desolate town. He has no time for the haranguing of bounty hunters, opting to take in their rewards for himself. Is he justified? Nobody is in these streets, but director Ferdinando Baldi makes it seem so. He protects his townspeople, and that is all we can ask of him. Surely a little discrepancy and lull in conscience as he steals the occasional reward from the grizzled traveller is acceptable when he does his job so well. Nero can go nowhere without fighting somebody. Bar brawls, shootouts and a complete destruction of almost every environment he shows up in. His fast-paced brawls are engaging and such great fun. It is a high point of the spaghetti western. Those familiar bars where violence is sure to conquer are shown with brutally fast pacing and deathly brawls.
But it is the brightness of the foliage and the interlinking relationships between the strapping young Jim and women that callback to the days of Hollywood westerns. It expresses an interest in those topics briskly, with the world of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon coming to the surface from time to time. There is never a need or moment that detracts from the power Nero has in these scenes, but there is certainly the feeling that his inclusion in these nods to the poetry of presence John Wayne provided would help tremendously. That it would, but Nero is off on his own escapades, often travelling through some beautiful landscapes, all captured nicely by Baldi’s direction. Wayne’s influence lingers throughout these moments. Sullivan is aiding the young brother find the killer of his father, and the reminiscent adventure and persistence found in The Searchers lingers here.
While Wayne within The Searchers was staggering around looking for reason in a world that no longer needed strapping, gentlemanly cowboys, it is Sullivan and younger brother Jim (Alberto Dell’Acqua) who take up the reigns of revenge. They hunt Cisco Delgado (José Suárez), the man who murdered their father. There are tremendous villains along the way. A vagabond leader who lines men up to the wall, having his lackeys shoot not by the yell of his voice or the firing of his gun, but the popping noise of his water bottle cap. It is one of the many scenes throughout that strike up villainy in the strangest and most unique of ways. That was often the case for the spaghetti western, which dared to try something new almost all the time.
Credit where it is due, Baldi has crafted a pioneering spaghetti western, one that wishes to make good use of its timekeeping skills. Why waste time on meandering foolishness when you can throw yourself deep into the heart of the genre. The brooding cowboys that linger in the dying, crying streets of the old west are found as ever, and it is through keen direction and an unwavering craftsmanship that Baldi brings out the best in his characters. It is disconnected and clunky, but when you ride this fast and freely, it is hard to notice the bumps in the road. We cannot hear the cries or complaints when the cowboys are firing their revolvers so frequently. Texas, Adios feels more like an action film whose western origins are lulls in its desire to tell a tale of simple revenge.